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Eight Danger Zones

Eight teens a day are killed in car crashes. But injuries and deaths are preventable. Make sure your young driver is aware of the leading causes of teen crashes. Then use a parent-teen driving agreement to put rules in place that will help your teen stay safe.

Danger Zone #1: Driver Inexperience

photo: father and son in a carCrash risk is highest in the first year a teen has their license.

What Parents Can Do

  • Provide at least 30 to 50 hours of supervised driving practice over at least six months.
  • Practice on a variety of roads, at different times of day, and in varied weather and traffic conditions.
  • Stress the importance of continually scanning for potential hazards including other vehicles, bicyclists, and pedestrians.
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Danger Zone #2: Driving with Teen Passengers

photo: teenage boy and girl with a carCrash risk goes up when teens drive with other teens in the car.

What Parents Can Do

  • Follow your state’s Graduated Driver Licensing system for passenger restrictions. If your state doesn’t have such a rule, limit the number of teen passengers your teen can have to zero or one.
  • Keep this rule for at least the first six months that your teen is driving.
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Danger Zone #3: Nighttime Driving

photo: highway during a sunsetFor all ages, fatal crashes are more likely to occur at night; but the risk is higher for teens.

What Parents Can Do

  • Make sure your teen is off the road by 9 or 10 p.m. for at least the first six months of licensed driving.
  • Practice nighttime driving with your teen when you think they are ready.
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Danger Zone #4: Not Using Seat Belts

photo: seat beltThe simplest way to prevent car crash deaths is to buckle up. 

What Parents Can Do

  • Require your teen to wear a seat belt on every trip. This simple step can reduce your teen’s risk of dying or being badly injured in a crash by about half. 
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Danger Zone #5: Distracted Driving

photo: phone in a carDistractions increase your teen’s risk of being in a crash.

What Parents Can Do

  • Don’t allow activities that may take your teen’s attention away from driving, such as talking on a cell phone, texting, eating, or playing with the radio.
  • Learn more about distracted driving.
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Danger Zone #6: Drowsy Driving

photo: highway at nightYoung drivers are at high risk for drowsy driving, which causes thousands of crashes every year. Teens are most tired and at risk when driving in the early morning or late at night.

What Parents Can Do

  • Know your teen’s schedule so you can be sure he or she is well rested before getting behind the wheel.
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Danger Zone #7: Reckless Driving

photo: speed limit signResearch shows that teens lack the experience, judgment, and maturity to assess risky situations.

What Parents Can Do

  • Make sure your teen knows to follow the speed limit and adjust their speed to match road conditions.
  • Remind your teen to maintain enough space behind the vehicle ahead to avoid a crash in case of a sudden stop.
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Danger Zone #8: Impaired Driving

photo: man holding a drink handing over car keysEven one drink will impair your teen’s driving ability and increase their risk of a crash.

What Parents Can Do

 

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